Fire Is Good for Prairie: Mark Leach Discusses His Research at the Learners' Lounge

Mark Leach, scientist and author, speaks on his prairie research, April 10, at the Raw Deal, Menomonie, Wisconsin.

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The Prairie Enthusiasts conducting a prescribed fire near Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

The data clearly reveal that fire benefits prairie.

Menomonie, Wisconsin (PRWEB) April 06, 2014

"Fire is the best conservation tool for Wisconsin's prairies," said Dr. Mark K. Leach, 59, author and scientist. Leach will discuss his long-time research into the role of fire in conserving and restoring Wisconsin's prairie vegetation at the Raw Deal. "I am very pleased that the Raw Deal asked me to speak on fire at their Learners' Lounge," said Leach. "Usually I speak before natural resource professionals and fellow scientists. The Learners' Lounge is great; anyone can learn while enjoying a craft beer or their other favorite beverage.

"Science is too often taught as an endless collection of facts to memorize," said Leach, a retired professor. "What I'll be talking about on Thursday is science as a process, specifically, how research deepens our understanding of how fire affects prairie. Many people know fire was part of the historical prairie, but using fire for conservation has been controversial. Over the years, I've tested many suppositions--hypotheses--about fire, mostly by resampling sites that had been sampled decades earlier. Some had burned; many hadn't. Comparing the data from different decades revealed some strong patterns: such as the lack of fire hammers the shortest species. About a fifth of native prairie plant species are in severe regional decline. The data clearly reveal that fire benefits prairie. The bottom line is that fire helps bring back these beautiful ecosystems from the edge of annihilation."

Dr. Leach has been a researcher and teacher at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Northland College, and U.W-Stout. He is the author of numerous scientific papers and two e-books: "Positive Participation with Nature: Ecological Restoration in Wisconsin" and, with Alexandra Zelles, "The Nineteenth Century Flora of Dane County, Wisconsin." Both are published by Economo E-Books.

This Learner's Lounge presentation is co-sponsored by The Prairie Enthusiasts-Chippewa Savannas Chapter and Economo E-Books.


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